Jul 2 2009
When Spook first settled his furry orange butt on our hayloft stairs, he was this feral, rangy adolescent who raided the barn cat dishes and fled at the faintest glint of human contact.
That was winter Spook. Summer Spook is still feral-and rangy-looking but now he’s crazed for attention and constantly underfoot. I can’t walk down the barn aisle or into the tack room without kicking, or stumbling, or tripping over that lousy cat.
His transformation did not occur overnight. I went through two rotisserie chickens, one serving of pot roast and a truckload of canned cat food just to earn the right to stand next to him.
Why in world did I waste my time? Hello, unemployment…. and the pressing need to catch him and get him neutered. But more than that, Spook posed a challenge. I wanted to prove I could tame the savage beast.
Cooing to him and singing his name like some half-brained cat lady was effective. After a few months he began testing the barn floor, creeping along as if it might suddenly swallow him up. But once I moved or worse — made eye contact — he’d bolt back up the loft stairs. It didn’t help that the other cats hazed him mercilessly; this spring, there’s been a lot of skittering and yowling in the loft.
But by June, Spook had matured. If I squatted down, sidled over and stretched my arm out, he’d let me pet him. That was a couple of weeks ago. Now he rubs up against my legs and follows me everywhere. It’s hard to believe that the same cat who lived in the shadows has become my shadow.
He’s still a gawky, feral looking thing. And probably always will be. When he saunters up — throwing his shoulders and staring with his wild orange eyes — you feel like you’re being stalked by a lion going in for the kill. But then he flops down and yawns, or curls himself around your boot.
Bottom line, Spook’s domesticated, but he’ll always have a wild side.